Purple Kitchen Treats

Over the past few years, I have been working on a cookbook. During this time, I took time off to finish my Master's Degree. Now that I have accomplished that, I am working again on my cookbook, slowly but surely.

However, over the past few months, something interesting has happened...I have received multiple requests for baked goods, particularly my cookies. I am also receiving multiple requests for granola. So, with all these requests in mind, I have started to make my cookies for sale, along with my granola.

My official web site is available, but will be undergoing a significant redesign. Be sure to visit my "official" web site at: http://www.susanshonk.com and watch for some exciting changes.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Friday, December 30, 2011

Simple Sauteed Mushrooms

Sauteed mushrooms, if done well, are a marvel.  Particularly button mushrooms when nicely browned.  I know that Julia Child always said, "don't crowd the mushrooms", but I have found that it doesn't matter for me.

I take a whole carton of button or crimini mushrooms that are at least 1.5 inches in diameter, slice them into 4 pieces, heat up my large non-stick skillet, add olive oil and butter, just under medium heat, let that come to a sizzle and throw in all the mushrooms, and disperse them evenly in the pan and give them a good toss to get the oil and butter on as many of them as you can.  Do not add salt yet.  Salt makes the mushrooms sweat and they won't brown as nicely.  Once you do that, the trick is to not touch them for several minutes......let them stay put, but keep an eye on them.  Then after several minutes, and ever so carefully, check one spot in the pan to see if the bottom ones have become golden brown.  If they have, then take a thin plastic spatula and flip them over, and let them sit again for several minutes.  Turning only as the need arises.  Once they are all cooked and nicely browned, then add salt and pepper to taste.  These will work wonderfully as a side dish, on burgers, in a brown gravy or on a salad.  I use these on steaks with my shiraz wine sauce and crumbled bleu cheese......complete YUMNESS!!!!!

I have found that these mushrooms come out gorgeous and golden brown.  I think that part of the reason they come out so well is because they are sliced pretty thick.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Creamsicle Cookies

As a child, my favorite treat in the world was a creamsicle.....orange sherbert wrapped around vanilla ice cream.  The thought of it still makes me giddy with delight. Unfortunately, I have not been able to eat ice cream for years, so I have to find alternative ways to enjoy my favorite flavor of summer.

3 variations on a theme:

#1 - Use my shortbread cookie recipe and bake it with only vanilla as the flavoring.  But instead of pure vanilla extract, I used vanilla bean paste.  Then, I used orange juice in the royal icing recipe along with a touch of orange food coloring to give it that "sunshine" look.  For serving the cookies the same day, I took a slice of mandarine orange and placed it in the royal icing as a juicy surprise.

#2 - Dice up candied orange rind and incorporate that into the cookie dough along with a few drops of orange extract and then make a vanilla royal icing with a piece of orange rind in the center for decoration.

#3 - Use the vanilla shortbread cookie base with candied orange rind and use a little orange food coloring in the dough to give it an more orange appearance, form it into 1 inch balls and bake.  Decorate with white royal icing and a green fondant or marzipan leaf.

These cookies are just too cute and work amazingly well for a ladies afternoon tea or a summer party.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Saturday, December 24, 2011

White Chocolate and Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

A short time ago, I blogged about the cookies that my work makes.  They are a traditional Toll House cookie with white chocolate and dried cranberries.  I decided to not make them, but rather use my shortbread recipe to my advantage.  One of the things that I noticed with my original shortbread recipe was that the texture changed depending upon which flavors I added to the dough.  For example, when I use cocoa powder, the cookies were a little too dry, so I will now only use 2 cups of flour and 1/3 cup cocoa powder.

So, I took my recipe and changed it to accommodate the white chocolate and the cranberries.  Here is what I did:

You will need:
1/3 cup dried cranberries and 1/3 cup chopped white chocolate - pulse in a food processor until broken down into very small pieces - set aside.

Then take...
2 sticks of butter at room temperature (1 cup)
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract.  Vanilla bean paste also works well.
1/2 teaspoon salt
...and beat these ingredients on medium until well incorporated.

Then add...
2 cups of flour and the cranberry & white chocolate to the butter mixture and mix until incorporated.

Preheat the oven to 350' F
Form pieces of dough into one inch balls and place on an un-greased cookie sheet
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes and remove from the oven and let cool.

At this point, you can use melted white chocolate and dried cranberries as a garnish, royal icing, powdered sugar or simply leave plain.

These came out fabulous!!!

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you, please enjoy!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

365 in 365 - time to 'fess up......

As y'all know, I began a challenge at the beginning of this year to post 365 recipes in 365 days.  I began the year with a great start.  As time went on, my full time job commitments increased,  I was promoted and had some staffing changes at work so I was unable to keep up the pace that I had so eagerly begun.

It is December 21st and I am too far from my original goal to reach the finish line by the 31st.  But......this does not mean that I won't keep developing recipes and writing.  I fully intend to keep plugging away at completing 365 recipes....but, with an extended deadline.

I am not disappointed that I did not reach my goal.  I am actually very happy that I have been able to accomplish as much as I have during 2011.   My accomplishments in 2011 are:

  • I created a bunch of new and original recipes 
  • I was the featured cook in the November 2011 issue of Plano Profile
  • I was able to launch a web site 
  • I received some great advice from Sara Moulton, who is a very warm, sweet and generous person
  • I continue to have lots of visitors to my blog from all over the world
Things left to do:
  • Reach the goal of 365 recipes
  • Raise enough money to publish my cook book
  • Get to baking my cookies so I can offer them for sale in 2012
  • Spend more time on my blog connecting with my followers and visitors
But, most importantly - Thank y'all so much for your visits to my blog, your patience and for following my kitchen adventures.  I appreciate each and every one of you.

I wish you many blessings this year and in the coming years.

Happy Holidays!!!
Merry Christmas!!!

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you, 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

365 in 365 - #129 - Cilantro Lime Rice

For years, I have eaten what restaurants have called cilantro lime rice without really tasting the cilantro or the lime.  So, I decided to come up with an updated version of this recipe that allows the flavor of the lime and the cilantro to shine.

The lime is not shy in this dish and the cilantro is refreshing  Both are stars with the rice as a great base for delivery.

You will need:
6 cups of cooked rice
the zest of 1 lime
the juice of 2 limes
1/2 bunch of chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon each of salt & pepper

While the rice is still warm, stir in the ingredients.  Let sit for 15 minutes and then serve.  This also works well with brown rice, which gives a heartier feel and nutty taste.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

365 in 365 - # 128 - Maple Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

De-Vine frosting for any pumpkin cake, pumpkin bread, cupcake or cookie.  Or you can do what one of my staff members did today......she took 1/2 slice of pumpkin bread and about 1/2 cup of the frosting and sat quietly in her corner gorging on the dessert with her eyes glossed over and transported to another dimension.

For the frosting, you will need:
2 packages Cream Cheese, at room temperature.
1/2 cup real maple syrup, plus a little more...just in case
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Using a hand held mixer, blend until smooth and creamy.

Just lovely......

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,


Sunday, November 27, 2011

365 in 365 - # 127 - Pumpkin Custard Bread Pudding

I know...there are a ton of bread pudding recipes out there, but I promise that this one is different.  It is uniquely a Susan recipe.

I made 2 kinds of pies for Thanksgiving - pumpkin and custard.  I had left over filling from each pie, so I dumped the left-over pumpkin pie filling into a container and without thinking, I dumped the left over custard pie filling into the same container.....and almost poured it down the drain.  then I thought...basically, the pie fillings each have cream, eggs, sugar and spices in them.  So I thought...what the heck...I'll make a pumpkin custard pie.

The next day, I decided to make bread for Jason.  He loves my home-made white bread.  A great trick to any bread recipe....add butter and honey to the liquid when you start to heat it to activate the yeast - your bread will never be the same and you will get RAVE reviews.  

So, I made 4 large loaves of bread.  As I was rooting around in the fridge for eggs, the pie filling was staring me in the face.  Well, it wasn't just staring....it was glaring at me, so thick and sweet.  And then I thought bread, custard - bread pudding!!!!

I added some milk to thin the filling out a bit and immediately sliced a fresh loaf of bread and took 6 of the slices, each was 3/4 of an inch thick, broke it up into pieces and placed them in the container with the pie filling, being careful to coat all the bread with the custard.   I placed it back in the fridge overnight to soak up all the liquid.

The following day, I used a loaf pan, buttered it and placed the custard drenched bread into the baking vessel and then into a preheated 350` (F) oven to bake for approx. 45 - 60 minutes.

OH MY FLIPPIN' STARS......this was incredible with the maple whipped cream on it.  Jason actually at it for dinner tonite.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,


365 in 365 - # 125 & # 126 - Turkey Stock and Southwestern Turkey Pot Pie

Ladies and Gents - this is not yo' mama's pot pie.  This one is spicy, thick, rich and simply chock full of flavor.

I used the turkey that I brined for Thanksgiving for this recipe and used the carcass to make the turkey stock with.  I have to tell you...the brined turkey was an event unto itself.  It turned out to be the most flavorful, moist and tender turkey I have ever had.  I have to confess that I had stopped cooking turkey because of how dry the bird always came out.  Because of the brining process, I will never have to suffer through a dry bird again...and neither will my family.

Southwestern Inspired Turkey Pot Pie
1 Dutch oven
3 deep dish pie plates
1/2 cup turkey fat from the stock made from your turkey carcass.
For a wonderful turkey stock:

  • Place the turkey carcass in a large pot and cover with cold water.  Add 4 celery stalks, 4 carrots and 1 large onion cut into chunks, 1 tablespoon pepper corns and 4 bay leaves, but no salt yet.
  • Place the cover on the pot and turn onto the lowest heat setting on your burner.
  • Cook until the water starts to simmer, then let cook for 30 minutes
  • Strain the hot liquid into another large pot using a large wire strainer lined with 3 layers of cheese cloth.
  • Let cool for 30 minutes and then refrigerate covered over night.
  • The next morning, you will have a nice layer of softly solid turkey fat covering some incredible turkey stock.
  • Use the fat as the thickener for the pot pies

1/2 cup flour
4 tablespoons spicy adobo
4 - 5 cups turkey stock
1 cup each - diced onion, celery and carrots (about a 1/2 inch dice)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 can each sweet corn and black beans, drained and rinsed
4 diced poblano peppers (about a 1/2 inch dice)
6 cups diced turkey
Salt to taste
Pie crust to cover 3 pies

Begin by melting the turkey fat in the Dutch oven over medium heat.  however, if you prefer an alternative to the turkey fat, you can use olive oil as a substitute.
Once melted, add the onion, celery, carrots and poblanos and cook for approx. 10 to 15 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook a few more minutes.
Sprinkle on the flour and stir to incorporate and cook for 5 minutes
Add the turkey stock, stir and let thicken
Add the corn, black beans and turkey and adobo, stir to incorporate and let heat through
At this point, taste for seasoning.  You may or may not need salt, especially if the turkey was brined.

Divide the filling amongst the 3 pie plates, cover with pie dough so that the dough is touching the filling, trim excess dough if needed.

Place the pie plates on a sheet pan lined with tin foil and bake in a pre-heated 350` F oven until the filling is bubbly and the crust is nicely browned.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,


Thursday, November 24, 2011

365 in 365 - #124 - Maple Whipped Cream

I made a version of pumpkin pie for the holiday that was simply fabulous, and I promise I will post it.  But, the whipped cream was a spur of the moment lightening strike.

I wanted to change the flavor profile of the pie to truly give it a New England feel, but didn't want to put the maple syrup in the pie filling until I have a chance to really play with the recipe.  So, I was whipping the cream and getting ready to put in the powdered sugar when "light dawned on Marblehead".....to use the maple syrup instead.  So I did and a whipped cream legend was born.

I used:
2 cups of ice cold heavy cream, beat until thick and it begins to hold it's shape, then add 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract, the real stuff and beat to incorporate and then begin to slowly drizzle in about 1/3 cup of maple syrup.  Taste to see if it has the amount of maple flavor that you like.

Dollop on anything that you think appropriate....pie, cake, trifle, use in a mousse or eat it right out of the bowl that it was whipped in.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you!!!

365 in 365 - Giving thanks and passing on a blessing

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!!  I hope your day was blessed with family, friends and good times.  

While we are giving thanks, let's not forget about those in need.  I am fortunate, as are my family and most of the people I know.  But, there are families and people who struggle with emotional challenges as well as financial challenges every day.  This is not just a need that occurs at the holidays.  For many, it is a need that is constant.  

My way of giving is to have a set dollar amount taken out of my pay check every payday.  My donations are to a couple of charities that work with cancer patients and one that provides food to those in need.  The other ways that I give are to help with special fund-raisers by giving time, donating baked goods or money, which ever is what my resources will allow.  Another way that I can help is to do something for someone else on the spur of a moment....hold a door, give up my seat for an elderly individual, greet someone warmly, buy a Police Man a cup of coffee when they are directing traffic in the cold, or whatever else may be appropriate.  

There are so many opportunities to bless others, so some day, if I ever get to open a diner, I would like to find ways to help struggling families and individuals through my business. 

Wishing you all many blessings from the heart of my purple kitchen to you!!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

365 in 365 - #121, #122 & 123 - Southwestern Inspired Brine, Roast Turkey and Roast Pork Loin

OK....I have read several recipes for brining liquid and I liked elements of each, but didn't have one the particularly struck me, so here is my version of a southwestern brine for turkey and pork loin, both of which are currently tucked away in my fridge in this wonderful liquid.  My kitchen smells amazing!!!

For the recipe below, I had enough brine to cover one 12 pound turkey and one 3 pound pork loin
This would also work well for 2 to 3 large chickens for those who don't eat pork.

For the brine:

Warning - this will be spicy.  If you like something a bit more mild, use a milder version of adobo and 1 tablespoon of peppercorns.

2 brining bags, available at Sur la Table (www.surlatable.com)

6 quarts water
1 1/2 cups kosher salt
1 cup honey
6 small bay leaves, broken into pieces
2 heaping tablespoons minced garlic
4 tablespoons adobo seasoning mix.  I use the spicy one from Baked Spice (www.bakedspice.com)
1 tablespoon peppercorns

Place all the ingredients except for the water, into a very large pitcher
Heat 2 quarts of water until warm and pour over the other ingredients
Stir until the salt is dissolved
Add the remaining water and let it cool

Prepare the turkey by removing the "pop-up" thermometer, the giblets and the neck and rinse well, place in a large brining bag and place the bag with the meat in a very large container (pot or bowl that will fit the meat and liquid).

Once cool, pour the liquid over your meat of choice, covering it with the liquid.  Seal the bag very well and marinate for 2 to 3 days in the fridge.

Remove from the liquid, rinse and pat the meat dry.

Next, you will need 4 to 5 sticks of butter......yes, that many sticks of butter at room temperature.  This is a special occasion and there is no need to be frugal on taste.  Place in a mixing bowl and add 3 tablespoons adobo and 1 bunch of chopped fresh cilantro and mix well.  If you don't like cilantro, though I can't imagine anyone not liking cilantro, you can substitute flat leaf parsley.  I sometimes use olive oil and make a rosemary, lemon zest and garlic paste for under the skin and on the meat......which is amazing!!!!

For the turkey use approximately 3 1/2 sticks and for the pork use approximately 1 1/2 sticks of butter.

Run your hand under the turkey skin to separate the meat from the skin and slather in the butter mixture being sure to get it all over the breast meat, down to the thighs and to the wings.  Take more butter and slather all over the top of the turkey skin.  At this point, Chef Ann Burrell suggests placing the turkey uncovered in the fridge overnight to dry out.  This will make the skin brown amazingly well.  I really liked this tip, so I am going to use it.

The next day, stuff the turkey cavity with 3 heads of garlic, cut roughly...no need to peel the garlic.  Tie the turkey legs together to help the turkey hold it's shape.  Place your turkey in a preheated oven (425 ` F) in a roasting pan with a rack.  The turkey should be placed on the lowest shelf in the oven.  To the bottom of the pan, add 4 cups chicken stock, 4 large diced carrots, 2 ribs of diced celery and 1 large onion, diced.  After the first 30 minutes, turn the oven down to 350` F and cook until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the  turkey breast reads 165` F.  Baste the turkey about every 30 minutes.  If the turkey starts to get too brown, place a tin foil tent over the turkey and continue cooking until the proper temperature is reached.

Remove from the oven, tent loosely with tin foil and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.

To prep the pork loin, take a paring knife and cut several slits in the meat, about 2 inches apart and 1 inch deep.  Peel enough garlic cloves to stuff into the holes and follow with a bit of the butter mixture
Then with the remaining butter mixture, slather it all over the pork, including the ends.  Place the pork in a roasting pan on a bed of roughly chopped carrots, onions and celery with 2 cups of chicken stock and bake at 350 until a thermometer reads 165` F.

Remove from the oven and place on a cutting board, loosely covered with tin foil and let rest at least 20 minutes before carving.

For either meat preparation, you can make a great pan sauce from the veggies and drippings or you can serve with gravy of your choice or a lovely Mexican Mole`.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you!!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

365 in 365 - #120 Cranberry, Walnut and White Chocolate Cookies

I will confess right now.....the kitchen at the hospital in which I work makes the most amazing cookies.  They have just started making a dried cranberry and white chocolate chip cookie that is simply addictive.

I do not have their recipe, but I think I can guess what it might be.  So, I am unabashedly and shamelessly going to tell you how I think they are making them.

Use the simple and original Toll House cookie dough recipe and add 1 cup of chopped white chocolate, 1 cup of chopped dried cranberries and, as an option, add 1 cup of chopped walnuts.  Bake according to the recipe directions.

I use a 3 ounce scoop to make most cookies, except my shortbread cookies.  please feel free to drizzle the cookies with melted white chocolate.  Oh my flippin' stars!!!!!

From my purple kitchen to you.


Monday, November 14, 2011

New Web Site

Have y'all had a chance to visit my new web site?  I would love to hear your feedback on the site.

Here is the link:


Thanks for your feed-back!!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

365 in 365 - #118 & #119 - Cranberry, Orange & Walnut Oatmeal Cookies AND White Chocolate, Dried Apricot & Macadamia Nut Cookies

It is getting to be my favorite time of year......Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's.  Holidays are always a time for families to gather to celebrate, to start new family traditions and share old ones, to catch up on all the going's on in everyones lives and to eat with abandon and not feel guilty.  The cookies that I am sharing today are a step away from the standard holiday favorites, but with an enhanced flavor profile.

Use your favorite oatmeal cookie recipe, instead of the standard raisins and walnuts, add:
  • 1 cup of chopped dried cranberries 
  • 1 cup of  chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon of orange zest.  
  • Drizzle with an icing made with a few tablespoons of orange juice and 2 cups of powdered sugar.

Use the same cookie recipe and add: 
  • 1 cup of chopped, dried apricots 
  • 1 cup of chopped white chocolate
  • 1 cup of chopped macadamia nuts  
  • Drizzle with melted white chocolate and enjoy.

I use a 3 ounce scoop to make the cookies, only 6 to a cookie sheet, and they come out amazing.  

If you are feeling particularly decadent, take a scoop of your favorite ice cream and make sandwiches with the cookies.  Wrap them individually in waxed paper and freeze until firm.  These make a wonderful treat for any occasion.

I know y'all will enjoy these cookies.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

365 in 365 - #117 - Cream of Poblano Soup

This was a recipe that I posted last year, before the challenge began.  It is soooo good that I wanted to bring it back and include it in the challenge.  I have changed it up a bit and the flavor profile is a bit more smooth and sophisticated.  The texture is creamy and thick, but I will warn you...this is spicy!!!!!

My mother-in-law discovered this soup in a restaurant and tried to make it.  Hers was very good, but I decided to give it a try and came up with this version.  Everyone agreed that this was the better of the two.  

This is a very rich and decadent soup and is not for everyday.  It is a wonderful “special occasion” soup for a holiday or birthday.  It is a beautiful soft green color and is on the spicy side.  It can also be used as a sauce for chicken or pork tenderloin.  Just substitute 1 quart of the half-n-half with heavy cream so you will have a thicker base.

8 poblano peppers, charred, peeled, seeded and deveined
2 jalapenos, charred, peeled, seeded and deveined
1 large bunch cilantro, chopped
1 medium onion, sautéed in 2 tsp olive oil
6 cloves of roasted garlic
2 quarts half-n-half at room temperature
1 pint heavy cream at room temperature
¾ tsp kosher Salt 
¾ tsp fresh ground / cracked Pepper

½ small bag of frozen corn, thawed and sautéed with a bit of olive oil until lightly brown 
4 chicken breasts, grilled and diced
4 ripe roma tomatoes, cored, seeded and diced
2 ripe avocados diced and spritzed with lime juice to prevent oxidation
Thinly sliced radish

In a blender, combine the onion, cilantro, garlic, enough of the half-n-half to cover and process until very smooth and pour into a 4 quart soup pot.  Process the poblanos and enough half-n-half to cover in the blender and add to the soup pot.  Add the remaining half-n-half, the cream, salt, pepper and stir.  If you like your soup more spicy, add the remaining 2 poblanos after processing them in the blender with some of the soup.  If you like even more spice, you can roast a few Jalapeno or Serrano peppers in the oven with a bit of olive oil to soften them.  Place them in a blender with a bit of the soup to process and add to the pot of soup. If needed, add more salt and pepper taste.

When reheating this soup, please be careful to do so on a very low heat stirring frequently or it will scald.  Also, because of the cream base, do not leave this unattended while reheating as it may boil over.  

Serve with your choice of garnishes and enjoy!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

365 in 365 - #116 - Fruit Nachos

Sometimes, I come up with recipes in a very "round-about" way.....sort of like taking the long way around.  This recipe is one of those examples.  

One night on our vacation, Jason and I had dinner at a restaurant in Albuquerque on the side of Sandia Peak.  The restaurant served flour tortilla chips instead of the standard corn tortilla chips.  The salsa was quite spicy and I loved that.  But, it also had a sweetness to it, which I also liked.  And, I think everyone knows that I just love a fruit salsa.  Dinner came, and I had the gooiest cheese chile rellenos...they were amazing.  It was then that it hit me....flour tortilla chips, cream cheese spread instead of beans, and some kind of sweet heat to top it all off.  

Many people may know about serving room temp cream cheese with some sort of sauce poured over it with crackers for dipping.  This recipe is kind of like that, but less messy for your guests. 

You can purchase or make your own flour tortilla chips.  If you make them, heat approximately 2 inches of veggie oil to 350 - 375 degrees (F).  Cut the flour tortillas into your desired shape and fry in the oil until golden brown and drain on paper towels.  I generally stick with the 6 inch size of tortilla to make chips from and cut them into 6 wedges.  I use 2 packages with approx. 10 tortillas in the package.  

  • You will need 8 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 jar of apricot jam mixed with 1 chipotle in adobo that has been finely minced (these come in cans in the Hispanic food section of the grocery store).  If you like more heat and a stronger chipotle flavor, add 1 more chipotle.  It is also an option to remove the seeds from the chipotle, if you prefer.  
  • You can substitute any jar of jam (with or without heat) and substitute any kind of nut.  My candied jalapenos also make a great topping for the cheese and no nuts are needed.  
  • 1/2 cup minced macadamia nuts, which are optional
Spread each chip with cream cheese and then spread with 2 teaspoons of the jam and sprinkle with the minced nuts.  This recipe makes a pile of chips, but be prepared for them to disappear quickly - especially during the preparation phase of this recipe.  These are addictive!

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you.

Enjoy your evening,

365 in 365 - My "official" web site is now live!!!

Hi Everyone,

It's finally here, my official web site....please visit and let me know what y'all think:


I'll be looking for your comments and feed-back.

Have a fabulous weekend!!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

365 in 365 - #115 - Green Chile Bread Croutons

Jason and I brought back a loaf of the most amazing bread from the Golden Crown Panaderia in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  This bread can be ordered on line and shipped, which we will be doing.  This is a bread that I will keep handy for all kinds of great meals.  At this point, we have used it for sandwiches, for french toast, for croutons and for a savory bread pudding.  My next plan is to use it as a base for stuffing....and not just for stuffing turkeys or chickens:  you'll see, it will be fun!!!

Tonite for dinner, I made a simple salad and needed croutons.  I didn't have any already made, so I decided to use a couple of slices of this wonderful bread.  I preheated the oven to 325 and cut the bread into 3/4 inch cubes, placed it in a bowl, drizzled it with garlic flavored olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper and tossed it to coat all the pieces.  Poured it out onto a cookie sheet in a single layer and baked it in the oven for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally so that the bread gets nice and toasty with a great crunch.

I know that this is a very simple recipe, but it is very good.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you!!!

Have a great nite,

Monday, October 17, 2011

365 in 365 - Back from Vacation

Hello Everyone!!!

Jason and I just returned from a wonderful week in Sedona, Arizona and Albuquerque, New Mexico.  We had an amazing time.  The first thing that I want to share with y'all is about the B&B that we stay at. This is our 2nd stay, and we have already planned the dates for our return trip.  The B&B is called Sedona Cathedral Hideaway (SCH).  The owners are Kathy and Larry and they are two of the most kind, warm and loving individuals that you will ever meet.  SCH is located, literally, just minutes from Cathedral Rock.  There are only 2 suites at this B&B, which creates a very personal experience for each guest.  Breakfast is an experience......the food is tremendous and there is plenty of it.  Jason and I like to eat on the deck facing cathedral Rock and watch the hummingbirds, finches, bluebirds, ravens and any other wild life that happens to come our way in the morning.  At night, you can hear the coyotes howl off and on.  Jason and I were lucky enough to be up late and out on the deck one evening and got to watch approximately 18 to 24 javalina (adults and babies) come through the yard and forage for food.  We were able to watch (from a distance) for about an hour as they ate, drank from the fountain and watched us watch them.

While we were in Sedona, we were able to meet Lisa Dahl of Dahl & Deluca,  a wonderful Italian restaurant.  She spent quite a bit of time at our table and signed her cookbook for us, "The Elixir of Life".  I plan on making Thanksgiving dinner from her book.  She even gave me some wonderful advice on cooking a turkey....this is advice I will definitely take.  The remainder of the dinner will also come from her cookbook.  Her website is:  http://livingdahl.com and is a wonderful resource.  I have to tell you about dinner....this is the most amazing Italian restaurant you will ever eat in.  The food is sensuous and seductive.  The wait staff are excellent...the maitre'd was gracious, pleasant and very helpful.  Chef Dahl was also very visible in the restaurant.  She was serving guests, rounding at tables and signing books for those who asked.  Lisa Dahl is lovely and gentle, but most importantly she is passionate about food and service and it shows.  If you ever get to Sedona, please be sure to visit this restaurant, you will not be disappointed.

A note to Chef Dahl - thank you so much for your kindness and generosity during our visit.  It was such a pleasure to meet you.  We will cherish the time that you spent with us.  We wish you continued success and happiness in all that you do.  

And, a note about turkey prep that Chef Dahl gave me - I would share this with you, but this is her method, not mine.  She mentioned that she might do a DVD on the subject, so I don't think that it would be appropriate for me to share this without her permission.  When she does publish her method for turkey preparation, I will post the link to the information for y'all.

Christmas Eve dinner will come from a cookbook by Jeff Smedstad, the chef who opened a restaurant called Elote in Sedona.  The book is titled "The ELOTE Cafe Cookbook" and contains some amazing southwest inspired recipes.  Jason and I didn't get to eat there during this trip, but we will definitely visit there the next time we are in Sedona.  I can tell you that all the reviews that we heard about Elote were stellar.  The web site for the restaurant is www.elotecafe.com and has some great information on it, including how to order the cookbook.

The next holiday New Years Eve and New Years Day.  I plan on using Jane Butel's, "Real Women Eat Chiles" cookbook for those meals.  Jane is an authority on southwestern cuisine and she offers cooking classes at her home.  My next trip to Albuquerque will most likely be planned around a cooking class.  Her website is: www.janebutel.com and is chock full of great information and resources as well.  I have subscribed to her newsletters for some time and find her recipes and products outstanding.

While we were in Albuquerque, we visited the Golden Crown Panaderia.  Their web site is: www.goldencrown.biz  The owner is Chris  Morales and he is a very warm, open man who greeted us with a huge smile and a very friendly hello.  When you drive down the street, you will need to be on the lookout for the bakery.  It is not flashy and there are no big signs with arrows pointing to it's whereabouts.  His bakery is is nestled in an old adobe and is completely charming.  When you walk up to the door, you will walk under a pergola with a few tables and chairs.  When you enter the bakery, the first thing that you notice is it's size.  It is very small with only 2 tables and a few chairs.  But...the smells are amazing when you walk thru the door.  My husband and I each had pastry and coffee for breakfast and purchased a loaf of bread.  The coffee itself was quite good, rich without any bitterness, but the pastries that we tried were de-licious!!!  Chris also gave us each a "biscochito" to sample, which melted in our mouths.   We were too early for pizza or for a sandwich, but this is one place that we will visit again.  Please visit the website and check out the "turkey bread" and be sure to give the cookies and pastries a try.
A note to Chris - thank you so much for sharing great information and resources during our visit.  It was great to meet you and we wish you continued success and happiness in all that you do.  We also wish we could be there to see you tango......"break a leg"!!!

During this trip, Jason and I visited several markets and enjoyed lots of really great food.  The long rides between Dallas, Texas and Sedona, Arizona gave me much needed time to think about ingredients, inspiration and ideas for new recipes.  As I test and perfect these new recipes, I will post them.  I can tell you that a few of them involve Native American "fry bread", black beans, blue corn and lots of spicy peppers.

In the meantime, if you have not had the opportunity to visit the desert southwest, please take a virtual tour of Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Sedona via the internet.  You might be very surprised at what you find.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you, please enjoy your evening!!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

365 in 365 - #114 Pumpkin Pudding

Since it is autumn (though you probably couldn't tell it here in Texas), it is pumpkin season.   I just returned from visiting my family in New Hampshire and fall is in full swing up in the North East.  I am originally from the coast of northern Massachusetts (pahkin my kah in the yahd) where the annual Topsfield Fair is held on old Route 1.  This is a scenic and lovely drive on a densely forested road.

So, in honor of this wonderful season, this is a recipe that I actually just came up with and I think you will love it.

3 cups of whole milk
1 cup of pumpkin
1/2 cup of sugar
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons of corn starch mixed with 3 tablespoons of cold water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all the wet ingredients together...except for the cornstarch and water...and pour into a saucepan and heat on medium low, stirring constantly.  Mix all the dry ingredients together and add to the pan, using a wire whisk, mix well to incorporate and continue stirring constantly.  When the mixture gets hot, stir the cornstarch and water and then slowly add it to the pudding while stirring.  Continue to cook, stirring constantly until thickened.  Pour into a heat-proof bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding and let it cool.

The cook gets the spoon and the pan, just to be sure that it is safe for everyone else to eat...

Serve with cinnamon whipped cream and if you are feeling particularly decadent, add some chocolate shavings over the top.

Happy autumn everyone!!!

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

365 in 365 - #110, #111, #112 & #113- Filet Mignon, Wine Sauce, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Grilled Asparagus

Good Morning Everyone!!!

I just couldn't sleep any more so I decided to get a head start on the morning by posting a couple of recipes.  This is a recipe that I entered into the Beringer Steak Contest over the last few months.  I have not heard anything so I have come to the hopeful conclusion that this recipe is so very good that no one else stood a chance and the recipe was eliminated to be fair to all the other entries......yes, I'll keep on dreaming.

No matter how the contest turned out, this is a great recipe. It's not too fancy, in fact is is simple and straight-forward and this is also a great Sunday dinner.

Beringer Steak Contest

Filet Mignon, cooked rare to medium rare

Sauteed mushrooms
1 package mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter

Garnish - Crumbled Maytag Bleu Cheese

For the Wine Sauce
1 bottle of Beringer Petite Sirah
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
2 shallots, minced and caramelized in butter 
½ cup honey
2 tablespoona cornstarch dissolved in21 tablespoons cold water
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
6 large red bliss potatoes, peeled and cooked until soft
1 head of roasted garlic, mashed
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 stick of butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Grilled Asparagus
Olive Oil
Smoked Salt
Cracked black pepper

In a heavy bottom skillet, reduce the wine by one third, add the garlic, shallots, salt and pepper and let simmer gently for 3 to 5 minutes until the garlic is softened, stirring constantly.  Add the honey and stir, let simmer very gently for 3 to 5 minutes more.  The wine sauce needs to coat the back of a wooden spoon.  If it needs to be thickened, add the cornstarch and water mixture by teaspoonfuls letting the wine come back to a simmer after each addition of cornstarch and water.   

Place 1/3 cup of sauce on the plate, center the filet mignon on the sauce, add another 1/3 cup sauce, 1/3 cup mushrooms and sprinkle with 1/8 cup crumbled bleu cheese.

For the Potatoes
Heat the cream 
Melt the butter
Process the potatoes and roasted garlic through the ricer or food mill
Add the butter to the potatoes and combine.  Add 1/4 cup of cream and stir.  If needed, add additional cream to reach desired consistency.

For the Asparagus
Trim and peel. drizzle with olive oil and grill to desired tenderness.
Sprinkle with smoked salt and pepper and serve.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday afternoon in the kitchen - part 2

It's is Sunday evening and I have spent the day in my kitchen.  I have cooked up a complete storm and my kitchen looks like it.  I have been putting in some extra hours on another project, so I have not had an opportunity to do much cooking for the past couple of weeks.   So, I decided to make up for lost time because my husband's naval was touching his spine.  So, with my husband's appetite firmly in my mind, I began cooking and have just now stopped for the nite.  Tomorrow, the madness ensues again.

Today, I made the following items:

  • Tuscan style roasted chicken
  • Cracked potatoes
  • Baked potatoes
  • Roasted brussels sprouts
  • Roasted carrots
  • Steamed eggs
  • Maple bacon
  • Tomato sauce and meatballs
Tomorrow, I need to make:
  • Home-made bread
  • Biscuits
  • Cook the roast
  • Steam the green beans and toast the almonds
  • Caramelize the shallots to go with the brussels sprouts
  • Grill lemons for the rosemary, lemon and garlic sauce for the chicken
  • Make Caprese salad to go with the chicken
  • Grill the ciabatta
  • Make blueberry muffins
There are a couple of recipes in this list that I need to post, so stay tuned.....I will be back in the next couple of days to post some new recipes.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you!

Have a wonderful nite!!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

365 in 365 - # 109 - Baked or Fried Chicken Parts - Act 1: The Strips

There is a complete science to fried chicken that only the most seasoned southern cooks really get.  Let's break down some of the areas of the US and how we treat food....oh, this should be fun!!!

     The Northeast - if you boil it, they will eat it
     The South - if you fry it, they will eat it
     The West Coast - if you make it small and pretty, they will eat it
     The Pacific Northwest and Alaska - if it's game, they are game
     The Upper Midwest - if it will "stick to your ribs", they will eat it

Now, this is not to say that any region won't try anything else, this is just a very high-level view of regional American cuisine.  I'm from New England, and it used to be that if you boiled it, I would eat it...well, not any more.  We had clambakes, boiled dinners, all kinds of soups, chili with beans (sacrilegious....at least from a Texas perspective) and any number of other stewed, poached, boiled and / or simmered preparation methods......which all "boiled down to" something simmering in some kind of liquid.

Growing up in my house, we had fried chicken, but we had "Shake-n-Bake".  If you recall from one of my earliest posts, I was very clear that my mother was an adequate cook, but she was an extraordinary baker.

Anywho.....If I have learned one thing, there is fried chicken, and then there is fried chicken (spoken with a slow southern drawl) and is an entirely different experience.  Let's be clear about one thing right now......I do not know what a "gizzard" is, I will not be frying any of them, and there will be no chicken parts in my kitchen that are not "normal".   The cats get the "giblets" as a treat.

At this point, I am playing with versions of fried chicken.  Despite the rumblings of some of the most seasoned southern cooks, I like to completely immerse my chicken in buttermilk overnight.  Buttermilk has a "tang" that subtly infuses the chicken and it keeps the chicken moist and tender.  

So, get yourself a chicken, if whole, cut it into parts, or you can get a fryer all ready cut up.  I happen to like purchasing the parts separately so that I can choose how many of each that I want.  Today, it is 4 boneless breast pieces for chicken strips and / or chicken bites (not nuggets).  One of our new commercials (In the US) asks, "what part of the chicken is a nugget?".  My answer, "Well, I simply don't know."

The first step is to trim the breast pieces of fat and cartilage.  Cut them into 1 inch strips, being sure to cut side to side, not top to bottom.  Put in a large bowl with a cover and then douse the whole thing in buttermilk, being sure to stir well so that the buttermilk gets in between all the chicken pieces.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  You can refrigerate for as little as 2 hours, but the chicken just won't be as tender.

For the breadcrumbs, you will need 2 cups of bread crumbs.  I am a big advocate of making my own with chunks of ciabatta bread (crust and all) thrown into a food processor with 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cracked (not finely ground) black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/4 cup of dehydrated onion flakes and 2 tablespoons of chopped flat leaf parsley.  Process until all is well blended and pour into a pie plate.

Let's talk about "club finger"......that terrible condition that results from taking wet meat, dredging it in flour, dipping in egg wash and then into what ever coating is going on the meat.  To avoid this terrifying condition, take the chicken strips out of the buttermilk bath with a fork and let some of the excess milk drip off.  Then, using the fork, place the chicken coated in buttermilk in the bread crumbs and coat it nicely on all sides.

For a nice baked version - place the strips on a jelly roll pan, lined with tin foil and sprayed with cooking spray.  Preheat your oven to 350` F, and cook the strips for approximately 20 minutes, or until firm and golden brown.  test one of the larger strips for doneness by cutting in in half to ensure that the meat is cooked thoroughly.

For a nice fried version - be sure to heat at least 1 inch of oil in a deep frying pan to 375` F, carefully "slide" the strips into the oil on by one, and fry (turning as needed) until golden brown on all sides, remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.

These are simply wonderful.  I'll be posting a few versions of these with different seasonings from around the world.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Monday, September 5, 2011

365 in 365 - #107 & # 108 - Lime Marinated Pork Quesadillas & Roasted Pico de Gayo

Days left in this challenge:  118             Recipes left to post:  257

Lime Marinated Pork Quesadillas
This is a recipe that I came up with because I didn’t have enough chicken stock left to poach some pork tenderloin.  I love the taste of lime, so I figured what the heck!  This turned out to be my husband’s favorite version of my quesadillas to date.  The key is to let the pork sit in the marinade over night in the fridge.  YUMMY!

3-4 lbs Pork tenderloin, trimmed
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups unsweetened Lime Juice (fresh or from the specialty food store).  I typically use Key Lime juice.
2 large bay leaves
1 tbsp whole peppercorns
1 large onion cut into chunks
1 bunch of cilantro

Place all the ingredients into a large pan, cover and bring to a simmer.
Let this simmer slowly for approx. 1 hour.  Let cool and place in the fridge over night.

The next morning, remove the pork, drain the meat and shred or chop into small pieces.  The meat will be very tender and delicious.

Roasted Pico de Gayo

2 lbs roma tomatoes, washed, cored, seeded, roasted and chopped.  
To roast the tomatoes, place in a single layer in a jellyroll pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in the over for 1 hour at 300”.
1 large red onion, chopped
2 coves garlic, minced
1 - 2 jalapenos, chopped (seeded if desired).  For the more adventurous, feel free to use a Serrano or habañero pepper.
One bunch of cilantro, washed and finely chopped.
¼ cup lime juice
½ tsp Kosher Salt and ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
Mix all the ingredients together, and let it sit to allow the flavors to meld.  
This can be made the day before also and refrigerated overnight.

Assembling the Quesadillas
You will need these additional ingredients:
4 cups shredded cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese and 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese, mixed
1 lb Sour cream
12 burrito sized Four tortillas
Cooking spray
A large griddle

Mix the Pico with the chopped pork and set aside.
Spread a thin layer of sour cream on a tortilla
Sprinkle a layer of cheese on half of the tortilla, 
Sprinkle about ½ cup of the pork and pico mixture on top of the cheese,
Sprinkle the pork and pico with cheese and fold the tortilla in half to cover the filling.
You now have a quesadilla that is really easy to turn without loosing any filling.

Preheat your griddle on medium heat.  Lightly spray the griddle.
Place the quesadillas on the griddle and let them turn a golden brown, once they turn a golden brown on one side, turn them over and repeat on the other side.  This makes 12 servings.

Serve with Chips, salsa, sour cream, and a Marguerita……Viva la Quesadilla!

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you!!!


Sunday, September 4, 2011

365 in 365 - Food Finds

I love shopping at small, privately owned stores with unusual items and at different farmer's markets.  The people are so warm and friendly.  Today, was one of those experiences.  I went over to Grapevine Texas to visit the Grapevine Olive Oil Company to stock up on a few things (Cinnamon Pear balsamic vinegar, Sicilian Lemon, black raspberry compote and jalapeno honey mustard).  I also discovered that they opened a new store in Dallas on Lover's Lane......this is GREAT news for Dallas residents.  If you have not heard of this place before, please visit them.  The selection of oils and vinegars are out of this world.

During my visit to the store in Grapevine today, I brought them 2 jam recipes that I made using their dark chocolate balsamic vinegar.  This vinegar is completely amazing......dark, sweet and very chocolatey.  It was the perfect addition to a simple home-made strawberry jam.  I also developed a dark sweet cherry, almond and chocolate balsamic vinegar jam recipe......both are soooo flippin' good.

I know......for breakfast, I'll surprise my hubby and make home-made biscuits with the cherry, almond and chocolate jam.  Yep, he is gonna LOVE it!!!!!

Have a lovely day, y'all,

365 in 365 - #106 - Baked Cauliflower Gratin

Days left in this challenge:  119             Recipes left to post:  259

The veggie for today remains Cauliflower.  Using the recipe from #105 to bake the cauliflower, instead of processing the cauliflower and making a smooth mixture out of it, cut the florets off of core and place in an oiled baking dish.  Use 1/2 cup each of shredded asiago, sharp cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, sprinkle over the cauliflower, top with breadcrumbs and spray lightly with olive oil.  Place in the oven at 350` until the cheese melts and the breadcrumbs become golden brown.  This is scrumptious!!

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you.


365 in 365 - #105 - Veggie of the day is Cauliflower

Days left in this challenge:  119             Recipes left to post:  260             

Good Morning Everyone.....it is 3am here in the Dallas - Ft. Worth area and I just couldn't sleep.  Over the past several days, I have been thinking about the challenge that I set out on at the beginning of the year and am determined to meet it.  So, with keyboard placed firmly on the desktop, fingers in motion, mind moving faster than the speed of sleep tonite, I will begin again...

Roasted Cauliflower
Cauliflower is one of those veggies that is very benign.  It doesn't have a strong flavor and if seasoned well, will pick up the scent and taste of whatever we choose to put in it.  One of my favorite ways to cook cauliflower is to roast it.  This brings out the natural sweetness and a depth of flavor that may surprise you.

Olive oil - infused olive oil works well here, particularly an Italian herb infused oil
1 head of cauliflower
1 head of garlic
1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh, rosemary
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon Red pepper flakes
1/2 stick of butter at room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Preheat oven to 350`, use the middle rack

Begin by removing the green leaves from the underside of the cauliflower and cut out much of the stem but try to leave the cauliflower head intact.  Take the head of garlic and cut the top off the entire head.   In a pan that will fit the cauliflower, drizzle olive oil to coat the pan with about 1/4 inch, place the garlic head in the center, and drizzle with a little more olive oil, place the cauliflower over the garlic, brush or drizzle the cauliflower with a little olive oil, sprinkle lightly with salt & pepper.  Cover the pan tightly with tin foil and bake until tender, approximately 30 - 45 minutes.

In the mean time, mix the butter, rosemary and red pepper flake and set aside.

When the cauliflower is nice and tender, remove from the oven and process in small batches using a food processor, squeeze the garlic cloves out of the head of garlic, add the cream and butter mixture and cheese, stir to incorporate.  This makes a nice substitute for whipped potatoes and is very flavorful.

I know that you will enjoy this tasty cauliflower dish.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,



Tuesday, August 30, 2011

365 in 365 - #104 - Holiday Tamales

Thank you soooo very much to the lovely and talented Sonia, aka Ms. Ruin, for coming to the house tonite to photograph the tamale making process.  It was such fun to visit with you, my sweet friend.

It is sooo tempting to post the recipe, but I cannot......at least not yet.  The recipe is for a magazine article that will be published in Plano Profile in November.  Once the article is published, then I can post the recipe here along with a few others that I promised to the magazine.  I'm such a tease, aren't I???

I have been busy working on recipes for the article and I promise that I will get back on track and begin posting recipes again for all of you.

Thank you, to everyone who visits this blog......I appreciate each visit.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you, have a great nite!!


Friday, August 26, 2011

365 in 365 - Adventures afoot......

Tonite, I am preparing 2 pans of pumpkin flan for a party I am catering tomorrow evening.  I am so very excited about this wonderful opportunity.  The menu is simple and straightforward:  quesadillas with salsa rojo and crema Mexicana, tortilla chips with roasted corn and black bean pico de gayo, fresh green salad with tomatoes, avocado, romaine lettuce, queso fresco and chipotle ranch dressing, watermelon water for Margaritas and pumpkin flan for dessert.

Then.....on Sunday, I will begin prep for an article that will be in a local magazine in November.  Next Friday, the food editor is coming to see me at home to do the interview and collect some recipes for the article.  I am so very excited and can't wait to spend some time with her.

I hope y'all have a blessed and wonderful weekend.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Friday, August 19, 2011

365 in 365 - #??? - Hatch Chile Peppers

Hatch, New Mexico in the US is home to the greatest chile peppers in the world....the Hatch chile pepper.  This pepper ranges from very mild on the heat scale to very hot.    Each year, the Hatch Chile Festival comes to markets across the US.  Boxes, displays and pepper roasters burst at the seams with these green and red beauties.  As the season progresses, the character of the flavor changes and the color moves from green to red.  Each cache of peppers yields subtle differences in flavor and character while all are wonderful and simply addictive...Hatch chile peppers might just be my drug of choice.

Today, I spent some time at Central Market in North Texas selecting peppers: hot, mild, fresh and roasted.  I easily brought home 10 pounds....for this one trip.  Trust me, there will be more trips to the market over the next couple of weeks.

At this point in the evening, I am prepping the peppers for cooking by soaking them in cold water with a special cleanser to get rid of any "nasties" that might be lurking on the peppers.  I have several bunches of cilantro (someone, PLEASE make a perfume from this herb!!!), large, sweet onions, flour tortillas, cheese, chicken, beef, ground turkey, pork tenderloin and all the makings for cornbread.  Tomorrow, I will make a gorgeous picadillo with which to stuff the peppers and will bake them with a light tomato based sauce infused with flavors from the Southwestern US.  Other peppers will be stuffed with various other concoctions, of which I will post the recipes once they are tested.  

OOOOO - plantains.....yup, I will need some of those too.

For tonite, dinner was hatch chile pesto spread on fresh, soft and warm Hatch chile flour tortillas.

So, it is back to the kitchen I go to finish prepping and begin cooking savory and sweet treats using this annual gift from the American Southwest.

In stead of "be still, my beating heart".....that old saying has morphed into, "be cool, my burning tongue"....

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you, have a great evening!!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

365 in 365 - #103 - Sour Cream Coffee Cake

I had forgotten all about this coffee cake until I found this recipe in my mom's shoebox.  This was a recipe that she would make for holiday morning breakfasts and is simply wonderful.  It is rich with a great moist texture, and very satisfying for anyone with a sweet tooth.

1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sifted flour
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream

1 cup chopped nuts
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar

Cream butter and sugar together and add eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated, add the vanilla
Add the sifted dry ingredients alternating with sour cream

Grease a tube pan and pour in half of the batter
Sprinkle with 1/2 of the topping, pour in the remaining batter and sprinkle with the remaining topping

Bake at 350' for approx. 45 minutes

Let cool before serving.

From my purple kitchen to you!


365 in 365 - #102 - Mini Lemon Drop Cookies

This is a cookie recipe that I found folded up and tucked in between a few other recipes that my mom had in her shoebox.   I remember these cookies as a cool summer treat on a hot day.  They are bright and lemony with a cool finish.

1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 stick butter
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
7 teaspoons lemon zest
1 cup minced nuts - optional

Beat the butter and sugar together, add the eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated, then beat in the lemon zest.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder and nuts (if desired)
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until incorporated

Drop by 1/2 teaspoon on greased cookie sheet
Bake at 375" for 8 - 10 minutes
Let cool and glaze

Lemon Glaze
4 cups of confectioners sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice

Add the lemon juice by tablespoon to the powdered sugar and mix until desired consistency and frost the cookies with glaze.  Sprinkle with yellow sugar crystals, if desired.

From my purple kitchen to you!


Saturday, August 6, 2011

365 in 365 - #101 - Spicy Stuffed Peppers

I think every culture has a version of stuffed vegetables of some sort.  Some are stuffed with cheeses, other veggies, meats, plantains, tofu or other ingredients such as rice and beans.  Where I grew up, we had stuffed green bell peppers.  These were very easy to make with ground beef, onion, rice and tomato sauce.

But, over the past several years, I have come to fully enjoy a little spice in my life and have come to enjoy using a more zesty version of the pepper.  I love to use poblano peppers, but now that Hatch chile pepper season is here....this is my pepper of choice.

For an updated and spicy version of stuffed peppers, try this:

2 large jars of Picante sauce
12 to 18 Hatch chile peppers, washed with the tops cut off and seed pods removed
13 x 9 x 2 inch pan or larger if needed

For the stuffing:
1 pound of ground beef or ground turkey
1 large yellow onion, diced small
1 cup cooked rice
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Crumbled queso fresco for sprinkling over the top of the peppers

Mix all the stuffing ingredients together and stuff the mixture into the peppers, filling them from the narrow tip up to the top.
Place enough picante sauce in the bottom of the baking vessel to coat the pan
Lay the stuffed peppers in the pan and spoon over additional picante sauce on each pepper and keep the remainder of the sauce handy.  You may have to add some additional sauce to the pan.
Cover the pan with tin foil for the first 20 minutes of cooking, then remove the cover and let the sauce thicken.

Bake at 350' F for 30 to 45 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.

Serve with a green salad and black beans for a great southwestern inspired meal.

From my purple kitchen to you!!!


Friday, August 5, 2011

365 in 365 - #100 - Cornbread Stuffed Hatch Chiles

One of the best things in the world are Hatch chiles.  Each year, the bounty of mild to hot peppers is incredible and I purchase TONS of them to cook and freeze.  I buy them fresh and fire roasted and prepare them for use all year long.  There is something so sublime about Hatch chiles.  Yes, they really are different than "regular" chiles.

These are the chiles that the chile pepper wreaths are made from.  We have "ristras" hanging in the kitchen and usually have a pepper wreath on the front door in the cooler weather.

One of my favorite ways to fix them is to stuff them.  One very unique way that I prepare them is to fill them with my favorite cornbread recipe and bake them.  The cornbread recipe I use is a sweet version and everyone has their favorite.  Basically, prepare the chiles in this manner:

First, wash the peppers and then cut the tops off of them and remove the seed pod.  Line a jelly roll pan with tin foil and spray it with cooking spray.  Then, take  strips of tin foil and create a "log" about 2 inches in diameter by scruntching up the tin foil to form the log.

Then, mix up your cornbread recipe and fill the peppers about 2/3 of the way with the batter, being sure to get the batter down into the tip of the pepper.
Place the peppers with the open end up on the tin foil log and bake according to the cornbread recipe.

I think  you will be surprised at just how wonderful these are.  These also freeze very well if sealed well in saran wrap.

More Hatch chile recipes will be coming your way over the next few weeks.

From my purple kitchen to you!!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

365 in 365 - #99 - Heart Healthy French Toast

OK...here goes...this version of French toast can be served to just about anyone who is calorie conscious, even vegetarian.  Even this version will blast the "regular" version out of the pan.

I hope your arteries had a nice rest, because they are about to get a little tender, loving care.  

For the heart healthy version of French toast, you will need:
Egg substitute to equal 1 dozen eggs, mixed with with 1/3 cup of milk
2 teaspoons of real vanilla extract
1/2 cup of real maple syrup - please don't skimp on this ingredient
Optional - 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
10 - 12 slices of your choice of bread, low calorie / high fiber bread works great

A non-stick pan with cover, coated with your favorite low calorie cooking sprayReal maple syrup for pouring over the French toast
Or...you can use my recipe for Strawberry Jam with Dark Chocolate balsamic vinegar......complete YUMNESS!!!!!!

Soak each piece of bread in the egg batter.  You may need to squish it down with a fork until it is well soaked with the egg batter.  You also might need a spatula to pick it up and place it in the hot pan.  Spray the pan with cooking spray, but don't let it get browned.  Place 2 slices of the soaked bread into the pan and place the cover on the pan.

Let this cook for at least 10 minutes then check to see if it is browned on one side by gently lifting up a corner.  It might take an additional 5 to 10 minutes.  The trick here is to be patient.  Once the first side is browned, flip the toast over and place the cover back on the pan.  Let it cook an additional 10 minutes and check to see if  the second side is browned.  When the toast is done, it should be nice and puffy in the center of each piece.  When this comes out of the pan, it will deflate, so don't be surprised if it does.  Repeat the process until all the egg batter is gone.

This is a great make-ahead breakfast.  The version also freezes very well if wrapped tightly.  If you choose to reheat this in a microwave, reheat the toast by covering it with a damp paper towel on the defrost setting. This will keep the toast from becoming rubbery and tough.  I reheat this in a 325' (F) oven, wrapped in tin foil for about 15 minutes and then unwrap it and heat for an addition 5 minutes, just to crisp it up.

This version is wonderful and I'll bet, if you don't tell anyone that this is "heart healthy", they may not know the difference.

I would love to hear from y'all when you try this recipe.

From my purple kitchen to you,
Have a wonderful nite!!!